Yes and no, mainly because of the self-contradictory nature of the American voter.
Barack Obama’s re-christening has arrived. It commenced with a small private ceremony January 20, Sunday — God’s day. The actual festivities, with the inaugural address and the grandstand and mass liberal adulation and veneration, occur Monday, January 21. For those angry liberals who urged Obama to banish the Almighty from the inaugural, they can take solace in the public ceremony (traditionally held on January 20) not occurring on the Christian holy day.
Alas, with Obama’s re-coronation, liberals are glorying in an altogether new epoch, one of supreme significance to their ideological resurgence: the end of the Reagan era. They’ve desired it for decades, and you can feel it, see it, smell it at their websites and blogs. One recent book carries the breathless title, Barack Obama’s America: How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era.
Sadly, I must admit, as a Reagan scholar and admirer, that they are largely correct. Obama’s reelection does, to a notable degree, end the Reagan era. We are now in the snares of a despairing period of left-wing ascendance, marked by gay marriage, forced taxpayer funding of abortion, an exploding government class, and, generally big government. As to the latter, Ronald Reagan had declared in his first inaugural: “government is not the solution … government is the problem.” The first Democrat to follow Reagan, Bill Clinton, had similarly stated “the era of big government is over.” Clinton’s affirmation was also affirmation of the continuation of the Reagan era.
And then came Barack Obama. Just days after his 2009 inauguration, Obama smashed the Reagan mantle, proclaiming: “the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs.”
Yes, “only government.” Obama had repudiated Reagan, and the electorate would again reward him four years later. What Obama called for 2009 seems to be the new American spirit in 2013.
But is it? Well, the answer is complicated.
For one, Barack Obama is indeed in the process of undoing the Reagan era. He has done so courtesy of a hopelessly oblivious American public, one that exhibits mindlessly schizophrenic voting behavior. Let history record a positively confounding reality that will baffle future historians (if they dig deep enough): The Obama era supplanted the Reagan era thanks to a self-contradicting voting public, one that adores Reagan, refers to him in opinion polls as the greatest of our presidents, and that overwhelming describes itself as conservative rather than liberal. All unbelievable, yes, but true. It is bizarre.
Consider the painful facts:
For a long time now, starting with the Reagan presidency, Americans have called themselves “conservative” rather than “liberal” by margins of roughly two-to-one. Generally, self-identified liberals have hovered around the 20% level, while conservatives have ranged in the upper-30%, sometimes above 40%. In 2000, the year George W. Bush was elected president, 18% of Americans said they were liberal vs. 36% who said they were conservative.
Surely this must have changed in 2008, with the election of Obama? After all, before he was elected president, Senator Barack Obama was ranked the most liberal member of a very liberal U.S. Senate by the respected, non-partisan National Journal, which is famous for its rankings of members of Congress. Obama was literally to the left of Barbara Boxer and Ted Kennedy. In short, then, the decisive majority of Americans that elected Obama president in 2008 must have been an overwhelmingly liberal lot?
That’s where the confusion sets in. No, it wasn’t a liberal lot.
Despite Obama winning the presidency by 54 to 46%, 21% of Americans who voted in the 2008 election said they were liberal vs. 38% who said they were conservative.
If that seems contradictory for a nation that voted for a man from the far left as president… well, it is. But it gets worse. Consider the findings of other surveys done shortly after Obama’s 2008 election:
A major Gallup poll conducted from January to May 2009, at the height of “Obama mania,” including Obama’s massive inaugural ceremony, found more self-described conservatives than liberals not only by a margin of 40% to 21% but in all 50 states. That’s correct, all 50 states, from California to Massachusetts. And that electorate chose Obama.
It also chose Reagan. During that same period, a remarkable nationwide survey was done by Clarus Research Group, which asked American voters which president should be the model for Barack Obama in shaping his presidency. One would expect Americans to pick a liberal president — since, of course, Obama is a leftist. Perhaps FDR, LBJ, Jimmy Carter. Instead, the top choice was America’s most conservative president: Ronald Reagan.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?